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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33750
Experience:  Estate Law Expert
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Can a stepmother take seperate banks accounts belonging to

Customer Question

Can a stepmother take seperate banks accounts belonging to her passed husband and convert them into community property before she is appointed administrator of the probate. Will these accounts go unnoticed by the probate court because they are in her name
prior to probate and by law are not required to go into probate? We have been advised by my wifes stepmother that they are doing that and that the converted bank accounts will be community property and belong solely to her. What is to stop her from claiming
that the monies are both her in her passed husbands eventhough the monies where inherited to her husband around twenty years ago. There are many accounts with alot of money. The stepmother never worked and the husband only had a average income job; would this
be proff to the probate court that the monnies had to come from the husbands inherited monies? how does the court prove seperate and community monies.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

No. The moment someone dies it is no longer possible to have community property created. They can try but it doesn't actually convert the property.

Any heir could object to the inventory that she offers the court and then ask for the records of the bank accounts, etc. The dates showing on the records would then prove that they're not community property.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much, I know that the monies in the accounts are from my fathers’ side of the family and her lawyer is the one who mentioned that they where in the process of changing. Can they change accounts where they will go unnoticed by the court: In other words, If no one knows about the accounts before probate how will it be proven. The inventory is only shows those accounts that are recognized as separate or community property not accounts only in her name. By the way this is in California. Also, is it possible for a child to look into monies that where inherited to her father. Is it open record? How would one find out this info to use as evidence that the monies where in bank accounts meant to stay separate? They will try to say that they where monies commingled otherwise.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.

The only way to find out about the property is to do the research and discovery and you probably want to consider hiring a lawyer to help with that since it is pretty complicated. You should be able to be reimbursed for the cost of the lawyer from the estate.

If your father inherited property and there was a court proceeding then it would be public record in the probate court. The file would be in the name of "The Estate of (INSERT DECEASED NAME)".

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am interested to know if property refers to bank accounts also. And do you go to the county court house to inquire about court proceedings related to probate.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.

Yes, property will generally refer to bank accounts as well as any other assets.

The courthouse would be the place to check for any documents related to probate. Specifically, there should be a clerk's office for the court that handles probate matters and they will have indexes and the files. All of those should be public records that you can look at as you choose.

The only reason to use a lawyer for the stepmother issues is because recreating what has occurred in moving assets and hiding assets is a matter of gathering records and then tracking them backwards and gathering more records. You do this using discovery and subpoenas and it can get extremely complicated unless you have done it a lot plus you have to get it in a form that is "admissible" or it can't be used in court.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Because of your help we already found "The Estate of (INSERT DECEASED NAME)”. One of the big contrubutors to my fathers estate. Now we know where to get the info and that we can access puplic records. We found out that the attorney to the step mother is using was used by the passed father for this estate. The attorney dennies knowing the father. Maybe he forgot, but it seems to me to be unethical changing the seperate monnies to community monnies when he was aware of where it came from. Should we tell our attorney this info and what kind of work can we do to keep the cost down to help the lawyer. I am going to rate you an A++ you have been extremly helpful. Thank you
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 2 years ago.

I wouldn't mention this yourself to the lawyer, just have your lawyer mention it and they can do so in a way that hints you might take action against them. That avoids putting you into a position where the lawyer perceives you as threatening them and wanting to get back at you.

As to how to keep costs down, that's something you would have to discuss with whatever lawyer you hire. It depends on what needs to be done in the case, what he already has forms for, etc.